Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mom and Dad's Barnegat Bay Flounder and Potatoes

This year, the bay is full of large flounder, so when we go to the shore, we often have fresh fish. We catch them in the channel right outside my parents' house.

My mom has a way of pan cooking filets which works really well. First, wet the filets in beaten egg. Then, dip them in corn flake crumbs, mixed with a small bit of Old Bay seasoning. Now, pay attention - following is the secret.

Once the filets are coated in the crumbs, put them in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. This firms up the crumbs, and keeps the crumb coating from coming off when frying later.
There are two secrets in frying. Use medium heat, and take the filets out of the pan right BEFORE you think they are done. Also, use a combination of peanut or canola oil and butter. You don't need much oil or butter, really.

My dad planted Yukon Gold and Redskin potatoes (both varieties) in the side yard, in a small patch near the house. They are ready to be eaten as thin skinned, new potatoes. We simply boiled them whole, and tossed them with butter, chopped parsley and a bit of dill along with salt and pepper. This made a a perfect bayside dinner, served along with green salad and coleslaw.
Below, mom and dad are standing in front of a photo of pound boats. These boats were used on Long Beach Island in the 'olden days' to net fish in the ocean. The boats were sail and oar powered. When my dad was a child in the late 1940s and 1950s, he used to go up to the beach to see the pound boats land with their catches of fish.

Monday, July 5, 2010

American Apple Pie

Apple season has begun! One of the earliest varieties is Yellow Transparent. I was lucky enough to get some of these apples from my mom and dad, who have a tree. I don't ever see this variety for sale in markets - even the small roadside apple stands. The apples we have bruise easily, and I imagine this is one reason we don't see them in markets (hard to transport when they bruise so readily.)

This is an early yielder, and the apples ripened two weeks ago.
Nick and I ate the pie with vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day Potato Salad

Today is American Iindependence day. For our celebratory picnic, I made a 'french style' potato salad. Why French? In my opinion, without the ready assistance of the French (including Lafayette) and others (including genius battlements engineer Thaddeus Kosiuszko), the United States may not have been able to break free of the mother country. Of course, the americans had to want it bad enough to fight. Hard. Without blood and sweat from the famous and obscure Americans, the United States would simply not have been formed. Today I remind myself that american independence was not a 'given' back in 1776. At the time the Declaration of Independence was written, half of American colonists were still loyal to Britain. Those who wanted independence wanted it badly enough to stake their lives and fortunes on it's successful outcome.

Our country still operates on ideals that are emulated by and envied by many in the world today. May we americans always be worthy -- in our actions, thoughts, and aspirations -- of the ideals and actions of our forefathers and foremothers.

So again, chapeaus off to the French, for helping us out back in the 1770s (and later, when we fought the British again in the early 1800s). To honor the French contribution to American Independence, I made today an adaptation of what Julia Child calls a "French Style" potato salad.

This is a simple recipe, and I'll share it here, but credit Julia for the inspiration. First, you have to start with the best possible ingredients, as this is a simple recipe and the quality of the ingredients "make" the meal.I bought some new potatoes (by "new" potatoes, I mean those of this season, freshly dug) last Thursday from a farmer who is in Philadelphia every week. I've mentioned him earlier here, and he and his mom, and sometimes others, are in Suburban Station (SEPTA) every Thursday.

These potatoes, and some fresh garlic chives and parsley from my garden, along with some red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and good quality olive oil are all I needed.
"Thank the French" Independence Day Potato Salad

8 to 10 ounces new redskin potatoes
1 teaspoon salt (plus more if needed)
a few grinds of pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (more or less)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped parsley (or less if you don't like this herb as much as I do)
2 tablespoons chopped garlic chives (or anything from the allium family -use your judgement)

Wash potatoes well, scrub a bit under running water. Cut into 1/4 inch slices (do not peel).

Boil for about 10 minutes (maybe less ) in salted water. Drain. Retain about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Put that and the potatoes back in the cooking pan. Let sit for about 5 minutes, covered.

Take potatoes and water out, and put in large mixing bowl. Lightly mix in vinegar herbs and pepper. Let sit at room temperature another 10 minutes (Covered). Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed. Add olive oil. Toss. Let cool. Transfer to refrigerator. Ready to serve in 2 hours.